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ᕄᐠᗱᐠ Tlįchǫ (Dogrib) Syllabarium

Below is the complete Dogrib Syllabarium, using only characters defined by Unicode. Unicode places all finals at the top-line, where Dene requires some finals to be top-line, some mid-line, and some baseline. The location of the final is vital to correct pronunciation. Please note that your browser may not be able to accomodate the mid-line and baseline finals.

The Dogrib Syllabarium is based on the French/Catholic tradition, which is also used by the Chipewyans of the North-West Territories.

Onset Vowel Final
a e i o
(h)2 ᐊᑊ ᐁᑊ ᐃᑊ ᐅᑊ  
(gh, x)2 ᒼᐊ ᒼᐁ ᒼᐃ ᒼᐅ ᐊᒼ
(ʔ)2 ᐥᐊ ᐥᐁ ᐥᐃ ᐥᐅ  
w ᐊᐧ ᐁᐧ ᐃᐧ ᐅᐧ
d, r
k ᒼᑲ ᒼᑫ ᒼᑭ ᒼᑯ  
(k’) ᑲᑊ ᑫᑊ ᑭᑊ ᑯᑊ  
(ł) ᒼᕍ ᒼᕃ ᒼᕄ ᒼᕊ  
(dl, tl, tl’)  
gh, x, ʀ3
(ts, ts’)  
sh, zh  
(j, ch, ch’)  
(f)5         F
(v)5         V
gw4 ᐟᒐ ᐟᒉ ᐟᒋ ᐟᒍ  

The traditional Tlįchǫ (Dogrib) syllabary does not differentiate all of the distinct sounds (phonemes) of the language, e.g. writing /j/ and /ch’/ with the same symbol. In general, this likely causes little difficulty for fluent speakers who can infer the correct phoneme from context. The Practical Syllabics system represents a more accurate rendering of Dene sounds.

The onsets in (round brackets) were not included in the chart, because the sound is written with two symbols (digraph). Digraphs are written with a “final” plus a syllabic. Symbols in {curly brackets} represent sounds which appear in the “finals” column of the chart.

Tone is not written. The traditional system uses the Roman period 〈.〉 instead of the syllabic version 〈᙮〉. The asterisk * indicates the following word is a proper name.


  1. Here the ogonek or “hook” accent (as in standard Roman orthography) 〈ą〉 stands for "nasal vowel". A nasal vowel (V̨) without a consonant onset gets unique characters in Unicode, but nasal vowel which is part of a consonant-vowel syllable (CV̨) does not, and must be, in Unicode, a combination of two glyphs.
  2. Please see Note 2 on the Denesųłįne Page which gives a detailed discussion of these sounds. In the Dogrib Syllabics text, the final appears before a vowel (e.g. ᐁ) to represent /he/, and when at the end of a syllable, is also pronounced /h/. This practice is not followed for Chipewyan. Glottal stops are not indicated at the beginnings of words. The sound /h/ is often simply left out of syllabics texts.
  3. The symbol “ρ” (the Greek letter rho) is used on the missionary chart for the sound /gh/. However, the final  is described as “r”. This is because the French ʀ is very close in sound to /gh/. The K’áshogot’ine 〈r〉 is a alveolar tap (a Spanish “r” or North American English “d” in “ladder”), and included in the d-series. French words, especially names like Marie and Pierre, are written as ᒪᖋ “maghi” and ᐱᔦ “biyer”
  4. Where Chipewyan has /ddh/, /tth/, /tth’/, /dh/, and /th/, Dogrib has /gw/, /kw/, /kw’/, /w/, and /wh/ respectively. By analogy, the /gw/ series could also be written ᑲᐧ ᑫᐧ ᑭᐧ ᑯᐧ, the /kw/ series ᒼᑲᐧ ᒼᑫᐧ ᒼᑭᐧ ᒼᑯᐧ, and the /kw’/ series ᑲᑊᐧ ᑫᑊᐧ ᑭᑊᐧ ᑯᑊᐧ.
  5. Neither “v” nor “f” are a distinctive sound in Dogrib native words, but occur in loans.
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